* Could help guide wind turbines, oil and gas exploration
* Important areas for birds cover 6.2 percent of oceans
OSLO Oct 16 A new atlas of the world's oceans
issued on Tuesday shows more than 3,000 sites important to
seabirds from albatrosses to penguins as part of a drive to
The free online atlas (www.birdlife.org/datazone/marine)
could help governments plan, for instance, where to set up
wildlife protection areas at sea or where to permit offshore
wind turbines or oil and gas exploration, they said.
The atlas, showing areas vital to birds including pelicans,
sandpipers, cormorants and skuas, was compiled by BirdLife
International, drawing on work by 1,000 bird experts, government
ministries and secretariats of U.N. Conventions.
"Seabirds are now the most threatened group of birds. They
present unique conservation problems, since many species travel
thousands of kilometres across international waters," BirdLife
International said in a statement.
It identifies more than 3,000 important bird areas (IBAs)
worldwide, such as breeding grounds and migration routes,
covering in total 6.2 percent of the world's oceans.
"Our initial target is to encourage governments to use this
tool and use this data in their national planning," Ben
Lascelles, BirdLife's Global Marine IBA Coordinator, told
He said that Japan, for instance, had recently consulted
BirdLife about where to site offshore wind farms to avoid damage
to migratory birds. The atlas was unveiled at a U.N. conference
on biological diversity in Hyderabad, India.
Areas such as off the tip of South Africa where or the
Pacific off South America were among the most important
"hotspots" for birds.
The atlas might also lead to the development of other global
marine maps, for instance for turtles, whales or sharks, and
encourage governments to identify where to site marine protected
Governments have set a goal of protecting 10 percent of the
entire area of the oceans by 2020, up from four percent in 2010.
"People have often cited a lack of data as a reason for
inaction for protection and management of sites, particularly on
the high seas," Lascelles said. "This is showing that there is a
lot of data out there."
(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Pravin Char)